Monday, December 18, 2017

The Governor's Mansion

For the past four years I've gone to tour the Governor's Mansion at Christmas time. The first two years I did it with a group of three friends, then one moved, then one more this year I asked all the women at my church and eighteen of us (I think) made the trek to downtown Montgomery (it's only about fifteen minutes away) to see the house decked out in all its holiday finery.

The mansion is open for evening tours the first three Mondays in December, from 5:30 to 7:30. The last three years we just waltzed right in. This year it was MOBBED. LONG line to get in -- it was crazy! Part of it, I think, was that we waited until the last night -- I've never done that before. But they said they've never had this many people take the tour, so it could have been just one of those things. Anyway -- next year we'll go the first or second Monday!

I didn't take a picture of the outside of the house this year and my pictures of past years are currently "lost" (because they're on Facebook and I can't get to them with my account deactivated), but I took pictures inside.

The tour begins at the Governor's Mansion Gift Shop, right across the street. The small shop has a lot of cute Alabama items -- mugs, stickers, magnets, ornaments -- you name it, they've got it. They also have products that were made in Alabama -- candles, textiles, food items. They were giving away samples of jellies and relishes and sweet dips out back and we tried everything we could! The tickets for the mansion tour are handed out by the cashiers, so that was our real purpose for going there.

In years past we've entered the mansion from the side grounds, taking a pretty drive that winds a little bit through the grounds. We always see our friend Donald Hollums who works as a law enforcement officer and is always at the mansion when we're there. This year -- I don't know if it's because of the crowds or for some other reason -- they had us walk down the street and come in from the front lawn. But -- we DID see Donald, so our tradition was maintained!

The choir from the First United Methodist Church was singing on the grand staircase when we walked in. They were amazing -- just beautiful. I was with Wilda Clark (and Susan Waldrop and Jean Shepherd and Carol Bowman -- we were the last of our group) and Wilda knew one of the singers (I think he's a doctor in Prattville). Pardon my less-than-stellar videography.

We always step to the side and take our picture in the mirror above a sideboard in the dining room. This year no one was walking back there, but Wilda and Carol were brave and snuck out of line to humor me. The only thing wrong with the picture is me -- it's not a good shot, but tra-dition! (Click on the pictures to enlarge them.)

Last year Governor Bentley was either divorced or about to be divorced from his wife of 184 years. I know they don't actually do the decorating, but we all agreed that the house Not as warm or welcoming. Well, let me say -- the house has NEVER looked prettier than it did this year! The decorations were lush, there were more of them, everything was just perfection. I don't know if Governor Ivey had anything to do with it, but I'm inclined to think she must have. This next picture is mainly a shot of the table in the dining room, but Jean and Susan are in the background.

In the drawing room there was a spectacular tree decorated with all sorts of things made by schoolchildren -- here's a sample of some of their creations (plenty of tiger paws and "Roll Tide" decorations).

The house next door -- the Farley-Hill house -- was decorated far more than it ever has been before. And it was spectacular. It's used as a kind of spillover house -- if they need extra space, a place for folks to stay, etc. This is a picture of me standing on tiptoe in the dining room trying to peer over the decorations on the fireplace mantel to get a shot. (If anything in these pictures looks tacky, that's not how it looked in person. In person it was all gorgeous, and a proof of the maxim that sometimes more is more. Really pretty.)

Decorations on the beautiful staircase in the Farley-Hill House.

The last room that we toured was decorated by the Master Gardeners and it was my favorite. I'm not sure what the room is used for -- it's relatively small, there's a fireplace in it -- maybe a sitting room or a parlor. Anyway, all of the decorations are made from natural materials: gourds, dried okra pods, cotton, dried flowers, etc. The next pictures were all taken in that room -- it was all so pretty!

I should have taken more pictures of the people I was with -- maybe I'll get it right next year! Dinner was delicious (I had a steak -- the last time I had a steak was a year ago on the same occasion). Very fun evening with women I love. I'm blessed.

More later...

No comments:

Post a Comment